Lessons to be learned: political party research and political party assistance
In attempting to explain the problems and failures of political party assistance, the paper raises the following contentions:
- Political party promoters lack sound policy strategies and do not have adequate evaluation policies.
- It is problematic not only that practitioners and political scientists work in isolation from each other, but also that political science research currently lacks the appropriate systematic knowledge about political parties outside of the Western world.
Specific methods of delivering party aid are also problematic. The paper identifies the following contributory factors to the problems in party aid:
- The lack of clear concepts of, and strategies for, international party assistance.
- The lack of collaboration between political scientists and practitioners.
- The lack of systematic empirical knowledge on the type of political parties outside Europe, how they operate and organise, and how and why they develop and change.
- There is need not only for modified concepts, but the accumulation of additional knowledge through empirical research, which obviously takes time.
- The dominant functional approach of political party research should be complemented by historical-institutional analyses in order to get a better understanding of party development.
- The mythic 'party model' should be abandoned because democracy is possible with other types of political parties.
- Different political party types pose different organisational challenges to assistance providers and therefore require different strategies or approaches.
- Political party development is related to societal change and usually takes place over a long time. However, political party aid providers tend not to conceive their programs and projects with perspectives as far-reaching as these in mind, which calls for a frank discussion on the strategic goals of political party assistance.